Meetings & Trips

Indoor Meetings

The club holds monthly indoor meetings between September and April that feature guest speakers on a wide-range of bird-related subjects.  Our meeting venue is Northern Rugby Club, McCracken Park, Great North Road, Newcastle, NE3 2DT. All meetings commence at 7.00pm on the second Thursday of the month unless otherwise indicated, and generally finish between 9.00pm-9.30pm though a bar is available for post-meeting socialising.

To Members of the Northumberland and Tyneside Bird Club 
A very big welcome back, our Indoor Meeting programme begins for the 2023/24 season on September 14th  2023 at our usual venue. Some speakers have not yet been confirmed and details will be posted as soon as possible.

14th September 2023 Dr Mark Eaton “Rare Breeding Birds in the UK”  
To start off our autumn program we have a exciting talk on the work of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel.
Mark is the secretary, and is well placed to tell us of the new developments in our rarer breeding birds; the increases, the decreases, the new species coming into the UK and of species which are struggling.
Doors open at 1830 for tea and coffee, Mark will start the talk at 1915 – see you all there
12th October 2023 Steve and Ann Toon “South Africa” 
The evening will start at the usual time, 1830 with Tea and Coffee and Chat, this will be followed at 1915 by the clubs AGM.
The main evenings entertainment will start after the AGM. So after all the dreary weather of late this months talk will take us to sunny Africa. Steve and Ann Toon are Northumberland based, professional wildlife photographers with 25 years experience of working in South Africa on the birds and other exciting wildlife.

9th November 2023 Kat Mayer “Tarras Valley Project” 
The evening will start at the usual time, 1830 with Tea and Coffee and Chat. There will then be a presentation by Kat Mayer, Education and Engagement Officer for Tarras Valley NR on the Tarras Valley Project. Known to many members as Langholm, this area just over the Northumberland border is a regular destination for many.

14th December 2023 Phil Hanmer – “From Queensland to Cairns via Daintree” 

Unfortunately this talk did not take place.

Dear Members

on behalf of the N&TBC Committee we are very sorry about the double booking of our venue last night.
Unfortunately these things happen from time to time, I hope you were not too inconvenienced.
On behalf of the Committee I would like to wish you all a great Christmas and an exciting birding New Year.
Phil Hanmer will be with us at one of the Spring 2024 dates.

This months talk is bringing us some warmer weather.  Phil will be telling us about a trip he did to Australia. The evening will start at the usual time, 1830 with Tea and Coffee and Chat. Alan MacFarland will have his second hand books, a great place to get an early Christmas present.

11th January 2024 David Steel – “Antarctica”.

David is a well known Ornithologist and ex-Farne Islands warden now working on the Isle of May,
but another passion is Antarctica.

8th February 2024 Jelaine Gan and Molly Watson – “Birds of the Phillippines and Argentina”

Jelaine Gan and Molly Watson are postgraduate research students at Newcastle University studying birds and bats in fragmented landscapes. Their talk provides an introduction to some of the more curious birds found in their home countries: the Philippines and Argentina. The Annual Report for 2022 “Birds in Northumbria” will be available at this meeting.

Field Trips

The club arranges regular field trips mainly to local destinations. Most are generally one-day or half-day outings within and just outside of the club’s area  with transport by private car. All field trips offer the opportunity to meet other members and can be particularly beneficial to newcomers and younger members.

For further information on any of the Field Trips, contact Steve Anderson by email seaswan@btinternet.com

Reviews for some NTBC Fields Trips 

NTBC Field Trip – 31st July 2022 by Tim Dean
A select band of four gathered at Druridge Pools for the trip from Druridge Bay to Boulmer mainly in search of waders. The pools had been very productive in May & June but the prolonged dry weather had reduced the water level considerably. Hence we struggled to find a wader from the south facing hide though Snipe could always be relied upon with at least six present. Walking back along the path a Willow Tit called which is a rare occurrence here. Reed Warbler & Whitethroat were still vocal as we moved onto the Budge Screen. Here a surprise Barn Owl was still hunting at 10am which was watched for some time gradually quartering the field. Waders here were mainly 20 Dunlin plus a lone Black-tailed Godwit. Onto Cresswell Pond where a low water level helped and some waders to sift through. The Avocet pair still had 3 juveniles accompanying and a lone Knot was still showing in partial summer plumage. Distantly a juvenile Little Ringed Plover was viewable near the causeway. On the spit on the west side two adult Mediterranean Gulls showed well and a Greenshank was feeding.

Time to move on to East Chevington where low water levels means excellent habitat for waders and also terns. Scope views revealed single Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Little Stint & Spotted Redshank. The latter has developed a habit of hiding itself in the Black-tailed Godwit flock making viewing difficult. Patience did pay off though and better views obtained. The Godwit flock has been up to 149 recently but we were happy with 65 on view. Ruff also have been seen daily with at least five moulting males seen plus a juvenile. More Knot in summer plumage were noted with four feeding near the eastern edge. The terns also were taking advantage of the safety of the muddy scrape with 20 Sandwich & eight Common terns loafing.

On to Amble Harbour for a chance of the Polish ringed Caspian Gull (PKCS) but it was not to be and every lamppost turned out to have a Herring Gull on top rather than the sought after rarer visitor. This is it’s tenth year of summering at Amble Harbour but sightings have been less reliable this year. The Sunday market was in full swing rather making birding stand out somewhat so time to move on.

We had a quick scan from Amble braid and another 30 Black-tailed Godwits were found. These really have increased in recent years as is the case especially in the south of the UK. A small group of Goosander were noted and a lone Grey Partridge called from the spit. Our final stop was at Boulmer with a chance of some different species of waders more suited to coastal areas. Walking up to Longhoughton Steel is always pleasant and with the tide coming in waders are gradually pushed towards you. The Golden Plover flock was spread out with at least 100 on the rocks. Another summer Knot was located along with a few Turnstone & Sanderling. The hoped for Bar-tailed Godwit & Grey Plover did not materialise although still early for returning birds. As often happens the best was left to last with three adult Roseate Terns showing in the tern roost at Longhoughton Steel. A challenge to make out amongst 150 Sandwich and a few Common Terns but the very pale upperparts together with the half red & black bills typical of late summer were easy field points.

Our total of 19 species of waders was just one short of last year’s total so a successful day showing that a good variety is possible given visits to suitable habitat. Thanks to all attendees for a convivial day and hopefully some pointers for the future.

Field Trip to Druridge Bay, Warkworth and Boulmer  on the 2nd August 2020 – by Tim Dean

The NTBC field trip to Druridge Bay, Warkworth & Boulmer was given a theme of ‘Waders’ and timed for early August to maximise our chances for wader passage. This transpired to be the case as 20 species were seen! There were seven participants including one young birder which is always a pleasing sign these days. We started at 9am at East Chevington where the water level was low after the dry summer. Always means that far more species are able to take advantage of the scrape created to the north of the north facing hide. In amongst the hundreds of Lapwing were a Greenshank, 3 Ruff & a Green Sandpiper with Common Sandpiper further out for comparison. A Whimbrel flew over and a first summer Little Gull was in among the Black-headed Gulls but the highlight was undoubtedly a juvenile Roseate Tern resting on a rock. The scalloped mantle very similar to juvenile Sandwich Tern but with red legs. A quick look over South Pool gave us perched scope views of a female Marsh Harrier.

Moving on we drove to Druridge Pools which was surprisingly quiet given the ideal low water level. A Wood Sandpiper showed well though which is always a bonus. A quick scan of the sea from the dunes gave us good views of the Common Scoter flock maybe 200 strong. Despite Tim’s best efforts we were unable to locate the two Velvet Scoter seen earlier in the day amongst the flock. Next stop was Cresswell Pond where we stayed by the causeway as the hide was very busy. Avocets were still lingering here along with a group of 12 Little Egrets. A recent influx of egrets saw 24 present at one point with a Cattle Egret for good measure.

I was hoping that the returning Caspian Gull might show at Amble Harbour so we drove to have a look. Not one of Tim’s best decisions! I would normally avoid Amble on a Sunday as the market draws crowds but I have never seen it awash with literally hundreds of people. Even parking was a challenge. Certainly the recent lockdown for Covid-19 has resulted in an influx of people now enjoying some freedom. We did quickly look over the harbour away from the crowds but no sign of ‘Casper’ the gull. It seems to be elusive this year in it’s eighth year of visiting late Summer.

Decided to venture onto the other side of the harbour at Amble Braid. Again the timing of this day to take advantage of the rising tide led to many waders being pushed onto the point here. 61 Black-tailed Godwits was a good count at this recently adopted site and a Whimbrel was also noted along with two Knot. Finishing off we moved up to Boulmer. Again busier than I have ever seen before and parking a challenge once again along the main road. However once away from the village and walking north the crowds were soon left behind. The rising tide was just right here as it pushes the waders so much closer for much better views than otherwise possible. Walking up to Longhoughton Steel and thankfully just avoiding a shower we settled to scan through the waders & terns. Two more Roseate Terns were seen, both adults and excellent views. The Golden Plover flock of 80 birds were fairly distant and reticent to come nearer with the tide. A spanking Bar-tailed Godwit in full summer garb was my personal highlight as rarely is this plumage seen here. Also summer-plumaged Turnstone were particularly smart. A couple of Wheatears were our only passerine highlight with autumn passage yet to get underway.

A productive six hours in the field and with pleasant company and the weather just behaving, an admirable way to spend the day. The only commonly seen waders that we missed were Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper & Spotted Redshank which gives a good idea of how fortunate we were with the variety on offer today.

Field Trip to Alnmouth and Boulmer  on the 18th August 2019 – by Tim Dean

Five of us gathered at Alnmouth beach car park for a walk around the Aln estuary followed in the afternoon along the shore at Boulmer. The focus was to be on waders but we started with a search through the terns gathering on the beach at Alnmouth. It is well known for terns to rest here just south of the estuary. We were lucky to find one Roseate Tern still present amongst the Common & Sandwich Terns, as many have already left having bred successfully on Coquet Island. 124 pairs this year a new record for the island. This was a new species for our youngest participant as Harry (aged 12)  was suitably impressed with the scope views. Walking along the northern edge of the estuary we stopped to watch two Little Egrets at close range in the harbour. Many common waders such as Redshank, Curlew & Lapwing were in good numbers. The Aln estuary is an important roost site for many species. Walking around to the bridge revealed some Black-tailed Godwits, a recent development as they now gather regularly here. Pam picked up two Greenshank near the bridge with another found further out & one also on the Hipsburn. Again the Aln sees good numbers of Greenshank each autumn. A picnic lunch was taken with views over the estuary. At one point every wader took to the sky but search as we did we could not locate the perpetrator. Likely to have been a Peregrine as one has been seen recently.

Harry and his dad accompanied me to Boulmer and although we managed to get caught in a sharp shower a brief walk here was enjoyed with Turnstone, Dunlin & a Bar-tailed Godwit seen. The Godwit was also much appreciated by Harry who had another tick under his belt. Not many pass through his home town of Doncaster!  Also offshore were a few Gannets & Kittiwakes. These visitors who were really appreciative of everything pointed out made the trip special as always a privilege to watch a young birder gradually build up his list. Am sure his first Roseate will be much remembered. A thank you drink was duly handed over to Tim at the Fishing Boat Inn at Boulmer. One of the best birding pubs in the county with easy views offshore from the terrace. A fine way to end a pleasant walk.

Field Trip to Kielder on the 15th  May 2016 – Review by Sally Lee
The day dawned sunny and still for our very first field trip with the club which augured well.  We met with Martin and 6 other members of the club and set off to walk round the arboretum where, we were reliably informed we would see Redstarts as there had been several pairs the previous weekend.  Alas, none were to be seen although one was to be heard but too far away. We did see Flycatchers, Chaffinches, Siskins and a variety of Tits although not in great numbers.  We then set off through the forest towards Deadwater Fell.  En route, an elusive Blackcap was spotted well hidden in the trees and the highlight of the day, a male Goshawk displaying which we stopped to watch for some time.  We then headed to the summit where we saw Meadow Pipits, Ravens and Grouse.  Next stop was lunch at the top of Deadwater Fell overlooking the stunning scenery.  It was downhill from there, not literally of course.  Rather than the obvious route down, we took the more adventurous mountain bike track down to the track. Walking back through the forest, we learned why the word owl and an arrow were painted on a tree.  For those that don’t know, it is so that when they are clearing woodland, anyone approaching from behind the tree knows to avoid it as there is an owl box on the other side.  Then it was down onto the disused railway line back into Kielder for a well earned pot of tea at the Castle.  For us, as new members, it was an extremely informative and interesting day out thanks to Martin and our fellow walkers.

Field Trip to Geltsdale on the 22nd May 2016 – Review by Sally Lee
The sun was shining while we ate breakfast before setting out for our second field trip with the club.  We were met at the Visitor’s car park by Steve Westerberg, RSPB manager at Geltsdale who had stepped in as guide for the day.  By now, the sky was a threatening grey.  Steve had a plan, a female Hen Harrier had been spotted displaying and building a nest on the north side of the reserve opposite Cold Fell so we would head up that way.  Luckily Steve had brought his trusty Land Rover Defender so the 6 of us piled in and headed off.  First was the off road adventure which eventually brought us to just below the viewing hut on Cold Fell.  We could hear the cuckoo and then it was spotted in a tree on the other side of the valley.  Down came the rain and hail that had been threatening so we waited it out in the Land Rover before heading  up the fell disturbing a Grouse and her chicks on the way.  We arrived at the hut and the sun came out.  Unfortunately, the Hen Harrier didn’t and nor did the Merlin.  We saw Roe Deer and a Green Hairstreak and learned a great deal about the research carried out at the reserve including one very dear to Steve’s heart, the tracking of Whinchats, the first research of its type to be carried out.  We headed back down and a Whinchat was heard and seen when Steve trained his scope on it so we could all have a look.  Not a lot else was seen when we stopped on the way down but we still enjoyed it.  Many thanks to Steve for sharing his vast knowledge of the area with us.